tv Book Discussion on The Presidents War CSPAN September 3, 2014 3:12am-4:18am EDT
and you are right, i cobroadcasters with judy woodward on pbs and they made the decision that it was impeachment. but it was a serious problem and it off the books operation that went against a congressional law. a lot of it was a series of events and across the board and i'm often asked unexpectedly what about now and that this is nothing. we have had nothing remotely like it where the president himself condones not just criminal activities but this whole atmosphere of fear and vengeance and enemies. and there was nothing like it
and i pray that there will be nothing like it and i think we just have to be sure to hold the president accountable and then get after the congress if they're not doing their job. especially on one particular issue that i don't have to even mention. because they're so obsessed with looking for that they sometimes end up finding it. so it should balance out in the end. the constitution works and it varies, but it works. i can't think of a better system and i'm also very concerned with ideas for tinkering with the constitution and that is a whole other subject. and we don't want to play tough politics with the first amendment or any of it. >> hello, my name is richard. you think that there's any truth to the thought when nixon had phlebitis that he was sort of
not taking his own life, but not necessarily writing to live? >> know, nixon was not a quitter. and then he finished when he quit. and i am not a quitter. and he never quit. he was just down and out as a person could be when he landed in san clemente. imagine the shame and the horror of team driven out of office. but he didn't quit. so i have some admiration for that. it would have depressed most people and he just kept going. >> as you say, watergate did show that the constitution would be upheld and i also feel that
watergate probably coming after the vietnam war also wore during the end of it, that it really took the respect for our institutions, which has been a long-running ring and the problem is government ideas that have been floating ever since. so in other words ronald reagan and the current republican party. >> that is a long way from there to here. richard nixon was probably the last republican president who believes that government can do good things. he was a liberal and he was a centrist kind of by circumstance and aimed at the conservative side but he had a democratic congress who is very strong on a
number of issues and so he compromise. a lot got done domestically and he wasn't really interested. but no, i think the you can take watergate as you want to see a you can also see it as institutions work in the end and this man and this government, there were three articles of impeachment. the first was obstruction of justice which was a procedural thing in very serious. it was abuse of power. to me, that is where the story really was and it should be today in certain circumstances. not here, but maybe in certain states. but the administration of this person, these things went on and they were very careful with what they put in this abuse of power.
and i think that we will be able to recognize it when we did. and so it doesn't discourage me. i didn't think it was a triumph because we all know things that need to be done and i always thought that gerald ford did the right thing and as he said, enough of watergate is enough, enough wallowing in watergate and the country had moveon. and i agree with that. and so we would've been able to pay attention to this and there was a very distinguished judicial friend who could've been held to this account and we could go on and on that way and i think it worked out kind of a way that it should. a lot of these people went to jail. most of them went to jail and
they all went to jail. so there was an accountability that went on. >> hello, my name is ted and i was a college student back and i can still remember watching president nixon resign. i've read quite a few books on watergate and i just want to ask you as an author one of those books, is there anything that we don't know about watergate or anything that you think still needs to be answered that has not come out? >> i do not think so. because i think in the end it was the little details. and so what is the difference? the story is what nixon and the white house were doing and it was the intrigue of who was
leaking to these good and hard-working reporters. but no, there's nothing that i'm curious about if some little detail that we don't know. we have enough to understand and i hope that is what this does. it follows the events and also reflects on them as they are happening. and then i go back to what was watergate, who was richard nixon, and i think that i got him at last. he was a rather complicated, very complicated person. but he was fascinating. and so i think that he is the most fascinating president that i know of and he was extraordinary. so no, i'm not a conspiracy type anyway. i think we have the big picture and that is the important picture. >> my name is jack hopkins and
in chris buckley is wonderful phrase, i am a self-loathing republican. it happened during the watergate, and so forth. and therefore i was in a very tense position. but taking this microphone for two reasons. one is the compliment you. i think the you have dealt evenly with president nixon. he was an extremely complicated man and a wonderful intellect, by the way. i admire his mind tremendously, but he had a care or fun we all have to admit. the second thing is i have a lot of differences with bob and i hated his guts. however i am convinced that he was the man who stopped those idiotic crazy presidential vocal orders more than anything house and i think he gets credit for
that. and he did what a good chief of staff should do. he disregarded his orders when necessary. thank you. >> not a lot was stopped after all. some of the middle of the night calls were, i think, and they would say what we do now? but except for the brookings institute order, i don't know of any during that time. there was a plan that was drawn up early and even j. edgar hoover thought that this was a bit much and he would not implement it. but bit by bit it was implemented. so they there were not a lot of people that understood boundaries around the place. >> as you know, i am like you
and a watergate junkie. there are a lot of us around. i agree with you that it wasn't destined that nixon get caught and get taken out of office and it may not have happened except for a series of lucky happenstance is and having the right people at the right place at the right time. so i agree with you. but i'm still troubled about the gerald ford question. because the first one who tried to do something about stopping the watergate investigations was gerald ford when the first investigation started. and that is going to be my bottom-line question. do you think that he was -- that there was a quid pro quo and there was a deal somewhere along the line. i know many people have looked at it, including the board of
directors of the profiles encourage award it had awarded that honor to gerald ford, they came out and decided what you said on the day that he help the country avoid this fight. but do you think that there may be more that we don't know? >> i don't think so. the question is was there a deal and it was very much a question when ford pardoned nixon. had they made a quid pro quo. and there are many investigations of it. but nobody has found anything and ford, as president had bought before the subcommittee to testify on what had happened. gerald ford was picked, i believe, a lot of people were nominating themselves because he
was safe and he was old gerald ford and he had been a critic of nixon and he was a decent guy, a decent man, a good guy from michigan and ohio, having a partiality for midwesterners. but he was no sparkling figure and i described the scene here in the white house when nixon was going to announce who is going to be his vice president after they got rid of spiro agnew for accepting cash and the vice presidential office from some contractors like that. so he was out. and i remember and i described the scene at as he was talking in sort of building it up and people stand up and applaud and i thought, there has to be a mistake. he must be confused and sure
enough it with him. and he turned out to be just right for this. he was steady and he set the right tone and it was right to say let's put this behind us and keep going and there was a big discussion, a big argument as to whether or not he should be prosecuted. i don't know what would have been gained by that. i don't know how the man could've been shamed anymore. but his impeachment was closing in on him and he said some of the greatest quotes from jail. but i don't think there was anything there or towards that.
>> i just wondered if you had a theory on why nixon was so paranoid. >> i stayed away from that kind of battle here and it just began very early, he felt that people were looking down on him and he was resentful. his family and his father kept talking about the various businesses. and it was very difficult for him to win her approval even after he became president, i think she finally said something nice. he had two brothers who died and she was focusing on them.
so who's to know what happened. he grew up presenting and he didn't know when to stop. there was a wonderful soliloquy that he did after he went to san clemente. and he gets carried away and he realized he did it much better than i'm doing. so it was just so clearly there and he was very bigoted and i went back and read conversations with members of congress on what they wanted to do and this was a scary prospect. they said that we heard that lbj used kind of bad language, but he was a piker compared to nixon. and there was just a lot of crudeness that went on with the hatred of blacks and jews and things like that.
the language is not fit to repeat. so it happened from a very early age and he got away with a willing people away from being his rivals and he just didn't know when to stop. >> first a story. many of you will remember a fellow by the name of harold carswell who was an appointee to the supreme court that was rejected because it was said that mediocrity is entitled to representation. and richard harris wrote a book in three articles for the new yorker and turned it into a book and it's sort of a case study of how he was defeated.
everyone mentioned in that book in every organization mentioned in that book who oppose him was audited on their tax returns and that was under richard nixon and john calmly and the secretary of the treasury and that is indeed what happened. some of those organizations, the tax-exempt status was threatened and it is a wise example of how we move to vendetta and enemies. my question is this is also a remarkable time of great public service and going well beyond what was expected and people shared a lot about that.
people want to know that there is such a thing as public service and outstanding public service. >> we don't know where it's going to come from. but i dedicated this version of the book to those who rose to the occasion and as the publishers put it on the copyright. but that was one of the most important things that happened here. there was a lot of fuss made over the urban committee hearings because sam talked constitutional law but he was a that of a ham. so he did show the country those who are populating the white house or running around and
fixing material in the potomac river. he talked about some material that had been found. but it was when it got to the house at about very serious and very important and there was a relatively new chairman of the house judiciary committee and he was from newark and nobody could find anything and he was a very quiet man and modest. and frances o'brien was a very bright guy. i don't know really how they found each other. he lied and said he was 34.
and he was really kind of the brains behind this thing. he had to find a council and there was a really sort of partisan staff left over from those who had been defeated. and he understood that this had to beheme of nonpartisan that was there. so he and his brother john went out and they found the counsel for the committee who had been in the eisenhower justice department and the bobby kennedy justice department and he was a real hero but nobody would call him a flamethrower or partisan figure. and they understood that this had to come from the center and they have to be in to accept it
and that is why the vietnam war and other things suggested to be part of this, they had as much trouble pushing aside those that wanted to go to the far right who could find no wrong with nixon. and then you have these murders that you really didn't know about and there was a man, and butler was one. and we were very serious. and he was a real conservative on the democratic side. and paul was very involved in
this article as well and they were beforehand part of every figure, they had not done anything outstanding. they were just sort of plainspoken and they all rose and took it very seriously. and they reached a bipartisan agreement that the country accepted and i can tell you afterwards that i had dinner with one of these heroes clear up some questions for the books and they invited me to this cocktail party on the hell and it was a party and he started telling these stories about how people really wanted to get on the judiciary committee because they were such wonderful people
and you could take such neat trips around the world. and so some of the best that went on would not be fit to repeat. but they were pretty normal people who when the occasion came, they really rose to it. this was true of the staff and it was a very complicated thing to keep under control. i can remember seeing in my mind's eye the committee and watching it on television. you may not remember. you didn't see any cameras because frances o'brien got the idea that he didn't want people to -- he wanted people to be right in there with the committee. he said, do you want to cover it, then do it through a hole in the wall. you're not going to be in the room. things like that most people don't think of. and mainly it was the character
that came out. they all knew the gravity and it will show you that they were individuals who truly couldn't make up their mind. the deal was i wasn't going to write about until afterwards. but they were very serious to what is a crime, what is a high crime map what is a misdemeanor. what does that mean? you have to burglarize something or is it beyond that? what is accountability? this is a very serious set of questions. and it was sort of a model and impeachment. the stuff that goes on now just sort of got ruined when they talked about the impeachment with clinton and lying under oath and it was really too bad that this thing got out of control and was used so loosely. public servants, regular people
and they made it happen and they help the country together while they did it. [applause] >> the public memory goes to those who rose to the occasion. elizabeth will be sitting here and signing books and they will line up this way. as usual, please help us with the chairs and thank you again. [applause] thank you, ev
and. >> i did my official book launch for both books here. aryan thinking is to seize been an end a booktv with others talking about books that is fantastic and this is the third time i have been on the program. so that is tremendously exciting to me. said this book "the presidents' war" six american presidents and the civil war that divided them" for me as a history lover and junkie for what i was before it became an author
this is a story that has never been told. we have a right -- a record number of living presidents for the of civil war all live to witness america's national tragedy to oppose and advise president abraham lincoln. but the story began with a conversation with a friend of mine mentioning something about martin van buren. you don't normally associate with the civil war with mid-19th century and he said he was still alive. i knew instantly i had the idea for my next book. so to tell the story we had to figure out where to start. ; dan on a dinner given
early from president jackson so the idea was to plug president andrew jackson that they could veto or refuse to be bound by solid which case tax placed of goods into the country for manufacturing them eliminated competition but it was a burden that was the exporting economy to rely on the terrace of free trade to be successful. so south carolina was threatening to nullify the national tariff. some of those decided to make their stance in honor of thomas jefferson the founder of the democratic party. should be a big night for
celebration. they elected there first official president jackson and had so much to celebrate. but this issue divided them. then by protocol the organizers they would give the toasted order of their station. and to listen to the organizers and cheering the idea that states could ignore federal law. and then jackson as a senator from tennessee a strong supporter they expected him to give a favorable toast. this is not what happened. that the union must be preserved. no qualification no ifs or
ian's or buts the union must be preserved like the exploded bomb. next and the doctrine of nullification that the union was dear to the hearts of sanders with that remarkable statement. [laughter] the insert was martin van buren and secretary of state of the latest dates and said let's remember this country was founded uncompromised. america itself was a compromise the constitution was a compromise them but as always remember compromise has kept us together the various crisis in the past. said that was the perfect
place to start as the union must be preserved and is the most tear in remember compromise is kept us together and these are the three philosophies then jack's administration had a congenital defect and this seems ridiculous to divide the government it is called the petticoated fair. jackson brought friends with him to d.c. from tennessee and one of them he placed his cabinet married a woman to closely following the death of her husband for the likes of calhoun. so this woman and her
husband were excluded from the various social functions. but martin film during is a along with the word he has no wife to pull him in one side or the other so it is very easy for him to support the president and the eaton family. and then to offer the resignation as secretary of state. and then to start a over so he was reluctant to a minister to england in martin fearing goes over and two senators henry clay and
daniel webster conspired so that calhoun as vice president and they're only too happy to do it. this is precisely as they have paint -- planned. then immediately after the facts said to have broken the ambassador. but calhoun is dropped from the national ticket them during is added as jackson's running mate. so the legacy that jackson leaves with van buren is not a great one. but amid the speculation with the housing market to cause the national economic collapse. [laughter] fortunately we have learned from these mistakes.
[laughter] and then figuring from nearly zero hours looks set day economic crisis. and then to defer to much credit. and van buren is defeated from the slow giving tippecanoe and tyler too and was part of the whigs party they agreed they did not like jackson which was a a good space this and didn't even bother to adopt the platform that they had the democrats on the ropes to win this race. so someone come over states' rights. and with that nullification crisis to get them to
capitulate. some of them were angry over jackson's policies and would veto the charter of the bank. harrison and the famed indian fighter and john tyler from virginia who conspired over the issue of his removal at the bank it was the mid 19th century equivalent of the 2008 barack obama campaign with new innovation. jackson did increase to the suffrage in more people could vote than ever before more people could read in all these mechanisms for reaching voters and rallies in all kinds of funny events to engage the public in the
election so the whigs were quite excited when they could defeat martin van buren but it was short-lived. harrison was a day 30 days following his inauguration. john tyler how he finds out embodies the role of the vice president he is on his knees playing marbles with his young children in virginia who days of vice president and the senate is not in session then someone arrives to tell when he has become president he was attracted to the whigs party because of the opposition in tears jackson but tyler himself was an opponent but objected on the way that he thought he could play it in his pocket of tyler disagrees with his party
with the competition of the national bank. but then within tyler spurred a is the gentleman who led torrey accomplished more than most presidents could never dreamed of but he really wanted the job for himself but play said for years and it is my term. and then tyler becomes the youngest president in history because he may want to run again so he will have a fight over the national bank rather than find a compromise. and then is formally expelled from the whig party
and the first president to do so maybe it got the last nuclear people firing the of buses outside so he is a man without a party thinking how he can get reelected looking at the democratic nomination. and then offers the seats on the supreme court. and then to rise back so tyler sets his site on texas to capture the imagination of the american people. with this country he did in'' -- eager for expansion
so he sets his sights maniacally on it tai -- requiring texas and bring it into the union. and then figure is defeated one of the most important rules you have never heard of is called the two-thirds rule of the democratic convention. in those states required two-thirds of those delegates of the convention and this gave the southerners' veto power over the choice of the nominee. mexico is still considered part of the territory and it dictated in the time america was in a position to acquire more territory to cause a major problem and ultimately
it would lead to the civil war. but clay was against an tyler considered running as a third-party candidate bedouin that party nominated teach golf as a firm supporter of texas annexation he would withdraw from the race but let polk narrowly defeats clay and then he opposes the annexation of texas. so throughout successfully the speaking of unions tithers wife died of he was in office and ended of carrying a 24 year-old when he was 54. not too bad. [laughter] and ended up getting married to set his sights on his wife which he names sherwood
forest taken never say the tyler did not have a sense of humor. tyler's neighbors decided they would play a joke on him that was the thankless job and you also had to pay a fine if you did not accept the job. [laughter] but the road map was to fulfill the duties to requisition in people to put them to work whenever he needed so he waited until the harvest was ready. [laughter] he requisitioned everybody's
slaves and then they say thank you it is time to hang up you have worked so hard that i have a responsibility to fulfill my duties and that is what i intend to do. [laughter] so he got the last laugh so president poehl will tap somebody then van deere in service as jackson's ambassador to russia and serves in the congress of the united states and as a soldier in the war of 18 to of. together they would navigate the aftermath of the annexation of texas sold some of the that does mean a war with mexico during the subsequent mexican-americans and more working on different areas those that
were elected to congress as the mexican-american war ended his speech said they cost him his political career or near the cave is reelection. so the helped in this former district so then we have franklin pierce with the senator from new hampshire and a young senator his wife hated washington and politics that they were drinking in holding elected office. so to see that to get
involved in a big way he becomes a general until the conclusion of the '04 that they would later defeat in a landslide for the presidency and millard fillmore that is back in buffalo and took some time off and it totally oppose the mexican-american war with james buchanan to be set up to be polk successor in those were the presidents of our active through the civil war itself but polk does science to one turned the sure dispose presidency ever serving a little less than three months before he dies.
then general zachary taylor the most popular from that board to be one of the fur seven supporters of zachary taylor what do we know? his position on slavery because it has that territory in the left now pacific power with the new territory with something of the proviso amendment offered during the appropriations bill that seeks to prevent the expansion of slavery in the territories and that was taylor's position he never voted he said he was whigs but not ultra whigs clay wanted the nomination in the purest whigs wanted nominated but lincoln said
we did principle of - - and now we need to win the. [laughter] said he was one of the first supporters to go out to be proactive so taylor is the nominee for president someone's whose beliefs that we know as the southern slave holder as one as the comptroller has still marceau's zachary taylor comes in as president the if taylor served out the term. as part of the joint union of the free state you have to give slave states you can come in the way you are. and then to support the belmont proviso so they started to secede there was
to be a the convention in national per for which states would leaf. another -- a number of compromises come to the floor in congress initiated by henry clay as his finest ever to set up the disputes across the country. of the territories of arizona and new mexico addressing the slavery but for his perspective that won't work in the desert in any way so it will not work in here. and texas claimed a wide swath of new mexico land and wanted to invade over issa we will extend the boundaries but we will also pay off their debt to satisfy texas. the most controversial is a new fugitive slave law a mechanism for returning
slaves to return them to their owners in the south. not very popular in the north. said these bills come dressing gold pill and taylor threatened to veto looking at a confrontation and the southern states. fillmore actually tells taylor if i am the tie vote i will do it. not animus to you but the country these the compromise to stay together. but to die during the height of the crisis henry clay is exhausted and a young senator from illinois but now that taylor is gone however. you had the pro slavery
element with the centrist group of sanders. -- senators in an antislavery senators to created a majority that the north like to put the senate holds together to pass all these bills knowing that tomorrow will sign them. he knows he signs his political death warrant they will have a ton of revisionist criticism even contemporary criticism but it prevents the civil war. they call that the final settlement is bad idea in history to call if i know you're just asking for it to be undone. which is what happened so fillmore is not a candidate for reelection the wage nominate scott and whigs are
dividing over the proviso sea will see a coalescing of parties that is very dangerous for the country to help cause the civil war. and then his colleague that served in congress for the first time franklin pierce had gone back to new hampshire after the mexican-american war with his wife's issues and scheming and 1854 remember with 1852 you have the two-thirds rule anyone as a front runner could automatically take so many slings and arrows. the front runners for the democrats were james a. cannon and stephen douglas. they took so many shots at each other the supporters
will never come together. so they select franklin pierce to serve as the general of the mexican-american border and when the messenger showed up here arrived in his carriage been just gets the news. she hates it very much. [laughter] now her husband is going back to politics the biggest way possible. on the way to his inauguration in pierce is involved with a literal train wreck not legislator presidencies. [laughter] his son is sitting right in front of him and watches his son get killed the only casualty it slides over the ravine and everybody gets up end federalizes his only son is gone. later when abraham lincoln
and loses his son lincoln writes a very heartfelt note to express condolences despite the sharp differences. said his presidency is characterized by the kansas nebraska act because they were largely held together by the missouri compromise. below the law in slavery was permitted above or not drink the territorial phrase. but then he finds he cannot get a pass but then he has to agree not to make it a free territory but the lady is that territories can decide whether or not they are afraid or slaves.
so here to someone to detest the abolitionist despite being from the north with the prose of turn the sentiments it is not a big deal to him but to make sure the ground is well surveyed he leverage is all the power of the presidency with the idea that kansas is the territory and he uses the power of the political newspapers it -- and is barely able to get it passed and theoretically this could be the end of the story to try from a combination of fraud and intimidation in to steal the election despite
being vastly outnumbered by anti's slavery they end up winning all of the elections for the legislative offices so the free state is marginalized leading to the civil war. this destroys the democratic party in the north of a series of former whigs, a small third party committee to the expansion in the west and former democrats will join together to form the republican party. of middle aged lawyer in illinois named lincoln going through a midlife crisis is determined at that point he
an energetic and a bright man in sensing his presidency destroyed we start to see the party segregating polaris alliance, the democratic party straw in the south and this new republican party gaining steam throughout north. and 71856 and irony of ironies, franklin pierce wants to run for reelection. no and accomplice to this. he trusted his biggest competitor of the country, james buchanan. paxon of england. in the book had to tell how his first foreign policy objective was to try to convince james buchanan to take this job. he succeeds in sending him to england. you have a great shot at getting a second term. obviously that is all changed. the democratic party has talked to the one person who is untainted.
so buchanan comes back tramping from england. the one person who has not taken up position. he is nominated by the democratic party for president. the republican party nominates john c. friedman as the first nominee for president general. this is the last election of the old america. you see a paradigm shift. the democrats have completely screwed things up. they brought the possibility of slavery. things are getting violent. they're murdering each other over the slavery issue. but come to life. so why the democrats win in 1856, well, i think that when in 1856, the last vote for the market "-- status quo. the markets are doing great. nominating stricken northern parties, republicans, were committed to preventing the expansion of slavery and might trigger civil war.
civil war, they thought, was bad for business, but many of them were poised to become the country's first millionaires during the war but at the time, of course, they were concerned about such an office crisis. so james buchanan wins. his presidency is not going to be a happy one. he spends his life seeking the office, finally gets it. no with the second oldest president ever to get in. two days later the dread scott decision is reached by the supreme court. don't feel too bad. he actually lobbied the supreme court to reach a sweeping decision. he actually knew about the out, at a time. this is great. we will take the most controversial issue of the democratic process and have a court fined for one of the most extreme science which is basically a decision that one way could permit slavery anywhere in the country, people could bring their slaves and were. and people were genuinely going to believe some reason that a decision turning all the free
states and the slave states was in the office. so this case will actually enflame the country. it will give great figure to the new york republican party. and in 1858 a rather important senators herrenvolk around what happened in kansas. and what happens with dread scott. and that is in illinois. the new york times said until the selection of illinois is settled will be the most interested dollars million in political speaking. abraham lincoln nominee, first and only trace of the republicans of illinois verses stephen douglas, an internationally famous u.s. senator. the two had known each other for a long time. lincoln considered douglases success compared to his relative ofilure to be as standing